Up in the Air – Cert 15 OSCAR time continues, with this hugely tipped comedy drama (or dromedy ) finally released on UK shores.Directed by Jason Reitman, whose previous big screen outing was with the over-rated but just about watchable Juno, I m less

Up in the Air - Cert 15

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OSCAR time continues, with this hugely tipped comedy drama (or 'dromedy') finally released on UK shores.

Directed by Jason Reitman, whose previous big screen outing was with the over-rated but just about watchable Juno, I'm less than stoked on why this is getting so much mainstream exposure in the same breath as 'Best Picture Oscar'.

The cast too leave little to desire in terms of the usual stitch that make it big when the awards are being dished out.

George Clooney is a likeable chap but he's hardly the world's greatest actor, with glossy performances in Oceans Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen...) the type of stuff I'm used to seeing him in.

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I used to love Jason Bateman in the brilliant (and probably best comedy last decade) Arrested Development, but some particularly mundane roles recently (including in the director's very own Juno) have taken some of credibility backwards.

I'm a fan of Danny McBride however, and although I'm unsure how big a role he'll play it's with excitement to see him in something other than the criminally under-looked and under-rated Eastbound and Down.

So will this truly take the audience 'up in the air' with delight and wonder?

I've not seen the trailer (I'm not a fan of trailers, if I'm honest, as some can cruelly take many of the best moments of the actual movie and spoil it) but sense the cast, plot and director will lead it down a more light-hearted route than what the Oscar judges usually go for.

My thoughts after watching the film

I'VE tried so hard to dislike George Clooney. His suave good looks, his cool-as-ice voice, and his universally adoring female fans - I should be so jealous that I hate him.

But, like Brad Pitt too, it's an impossible task.

Up In The Air confirms this impossibility, as although his baggage-lugging character is decidedly unlikeable in some of his key traits (namely the philosophy he spews about life being easier and better without human connection) he still comes across as a good guy.

So we follow one Ryan Bingham, who has the decidedly culturally relevant job of being paid to fire people (but they never use that 'f' word).

He spends much of his time travelling across to different places in America, a perk that he particularly enjoys - nothing to tie him down, resenting the few weeks he spends in his home city.

He's the type of guy who keeps every hotel key card, lives off the proud plastic in his wallet that proclaims the benefits he gets to undercut us normal holidaymakers at airports.

Like a breakdown of social ethics that was so important to the fabric of the decade old Fight Club (Can you believe it?), George Clooney's character see's himself as a decidedly post-modern kind of guy - his 25,000 feet lifestyle should be admired, he thinks, and when he meets a woman at an airport lounge that matches these credentials he is spellbound.

It's with expected shock that when something good seems to come along that a spanner is thrown into the works - his professional firing company he works with has decided to ditch all this expensive air travelling, instead moving to the cost-effective (and terribly inappropriate) laying people off via a computer screen, remotely.

It's a very modern story (and whether that means it will age quickly is anyone's guess) and one that provides a brilliant window into a window few get to experience with such intensity - a goal of hitting millions of air miles, airport bars are to him what our local pub is to us.

The writing is excellent throughout, so good in fact that my admiration for the wit and snappy humour has made me seek out the book this is based on.

Take this great piece of airport social commentary (though avoid if you're one of those that gets very easily offended):

Ryan Bingham (on getting through airport security): Never get behind old people. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate the time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love 'em.

Natalie Keener (a young woman with bright ideas he is told to tutor): That's racist.

Ryan Bingham: I'm like my mother, I stereotype. It's faster.

The cast do a generally sublime job, not top-tier theatre intensity of Precious but still pretty great.

Special mention has to go to the gorgeous Vera Farmiga, recently seen in The Departed, who portrays that sexy 'older' woman to perfection.

She reminds me of a younger, sexier Meryl Streep or Annette Bening and I certainly hope that she's picked up for more future roles in the future (as it seems her acting career began relatively late, in 1997, so here's hoping she turns into a star soon).

The plot intersperses between numerous subplots (from family crisis to overcoming this internet remote firing problem) that all highlight the characteristics that make Clooney's character so beautifully flawed.

Props have to go to director and writer Jason Reitman, who I'd nearly given up on the near sell-out direction of Juno - the typical indie music, the cringe-worthy (at times) script, the frustratingly trying-too-hard-to-be-cool handling of the whole thing.

Reitman thankfully ditches this pretence and the elements on the screen come across as something that he genuinely cares for, that's got moments that feel really personal. Nothing is forced here and the soundtrack especially works really nicely.

Does this have the assets to be an Oscar contender though?

It definitely lacks the emotional intensity of Precious and some of the features that possible contenders like Avatar have too (and if you remember the charm and setting of last year's winner Slumdog Millionaire is what won it).

Although a great movie, and one of Clooney's best (and most natural fitting for his look and acting style), I think there's a slight blandness about it that won't quite put it in the 'classics' section in the future.

It's as solid as glossy dram-coms come but it didn't leave behind a glowing memory that deserves it the Oscar.


4/5 Stars